A year to look backwards


Catholic Herald, 30 March 2017

The anniversaries of 2017 are a chance to ponder events that profoundly shape the world today

The anniversary is the columnist’s reliable friend. Nothing in the news today worthy of comment? How about the news of 10, 50 or 100 years ago? At this distance only the highlights remain. Just wait until this coming summer when journalists will escape the late August news doldrums by marking the 20th anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. (Catholic journalists will recall that St Teresa of Calcutta died the same week.)

Uninspired by today’s leaders? Use the 65th anniversary of the Queen’s accession or the 90th birthday of Benedict XVI to shift attention to more favourable subjects.

Chesterton wrote about the democracy of the dead: “Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to walk about.” Commentators who have never read Chesterton agree with him; the anniversary column frees the writer from the tyranny of what is happening right now.

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